It’s Houseplant Week! I absolutely love having plants in my home, but I know the thought of keeping houseplants alive can be intimidating. Trust me: I once killed a cactus. And many succulents. And a couple ferns. No judgment here. Over the years, though, I’ve learned a few things, and now I’ve got dozens of happy plants throughout the house. If you like the idea of having some greenery in your home but aren’t sure where to start, this series is for you! Today we’re talking about snake plants.
Word on the street is snake plants are the easiest houseplants to keep alive. You already know I disagree; that title goes to the hardy pothos. Here’s why: I’ve killed snake plants much faster than I’ve killed pothos. BUT I figured out my mistakes and now? Now I’ve got this giant beauty who has been sitting atop a bookcase in my family room for a year or so. I love how sculptural snake plants are, and once you find the right home for them they require practically zero maintenance. Which is exactly how I like my houseplants.
About Snake Plants:
- You may have heard them called “mother-in-law’s tongue” but that just seems mean. I much prefer to call them snake plants.
- They have long, rigid leaves in slightly stripey variegated green and yellow. You know…like snakes.
- Supposedly it’s one of the best houseplants around for filtering formaldehyde and nitrogen oxides out of the air.
- New snake plants grow from rhizomes. Basically the old plant sends out little runners and a new plant starts to grow from them.
- Snake plants are mildly toxic to pet, and probably people too. Let’s not eat one and find out, mmkay?
- Look for stiff, shiny, green and yellow leaves. Brown along the edges and brittle texture means the plant is drying out (you can see dead, dry leaves in the image above); green floppy leaves that can be pulled out of the soil easily have been over-watered.
- Since they don’t grow very quickly, buy one that is the size you want. A smaller plant may cost lest, but unlike other houseplants, you can’t depend on it growing to fill the space you want to put it in. In my opinion, with snake plants, bigger is better.
- My big one is from the garden center of a hardware store, but I see them at grocery stores occasionally, and most nurseries carry them as well.
- Light: I’ve heard that snake plants can handle dim light. LIES. This is what killed my first snake plant; I put it in my dark bedroom and it eventually shriveled up. I recommend medium indirect sunlight for happy snake plants.
- Water: If you think it’s been too long since you last watered it, wait another few days and then give it a drink. Not too much, though. Snake plants rot really easily. Err on the side of not enough water, and if you notice some crispy leaves, give it a cup or two. I usually dump whatever water is left in my girls’ sippy cups into my snake plant once every couple weeks.
- Soil: Because they rot easily, soil that drains well is ideal. Nothing too soft and soggy. Basic potting soil is fine, but I’ve actually had better success just leaving my snake plants in the soil they came in and setting them inside a new pot with very little intervention.
- Like I said above, I tend not to re-pot my snake plants. If you do re-pot one, though, you don’t need to break up the roots at all. Just lift it out, place it in a new pot, add some dirt, and call it good.
- If you notice your snake plant has sent out a rhizome and started a new growth, that’s awesome! You’re doing great! If you want, you can cut the rhizome (it’s that thick stalk beneath the soil connecting the baby leaf to a big one) and separate the new growth from the old plant to put in a new pot. HOWEVER…I would just leave it there. Snake plants just grow so slowly, you’re not likely to get a big new lush plant from one tiny cutting. If you want a new one, go buy a full grown one.
Isn’t it pretty? High impact, minimal effort…as long as you don’t hide it in the dark or drown it. But you can do that, right?
Have you ever had a snake plant? What do you think: are they easier to care for than other houseplants or just as easy to kill?